NFLPA president: League thinks virus ‘will bend to football’

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – NFL training camps are scheduled to start in three weeks and there’s still quite a bit of uncertainty how that’s going to look around the league.

The NFL Players Association doesn’t have much faith that things will go smoothly and is not happy with the way the NFL has approached safety as plans to return amidst the coronavirus pandemic have been slow to take shape.

On Tuesday, NFLPA president JC Tretter posted a letter that took aim at the league for what he said has been a failure to thoroughly plan for the starting football during a pandemic.

“The NFL is unwilling to prioritize player safety and believes that the virus will bend to football,” Tretter said. “Every decision this year that prioritizes normalcy over innovation, custom over science or even football over health, significantly reduces our chances of completing the full season. We don’t want to merely return to work and have the season shut down before we even get started.”

Among protocols listed by the league include things like no joint practices between teams, no fans at training camps and players sitting out a minimum of five days after a positive test. That’s a start, but so far, those aren’t thorough enough for the Players Association.

Tretter said the NFL thinks the virus will conform to football when it should be the other way around and the NFLPA wants further concessions to ensure the safety of players.

After the NFL shortened the preseason to two games the NFLPA voted last week that there should be no preseason because of the increased injury risk.

“Following the extended break after the 2011 lockout, injuries increased by 25%. Achilles injuries more than doubled and hamstring strains went up 44%,” Tretter said.

As the NFL works towards finalizing its test protocols before training camp begins, the ability to test players consistently at the start of training camp and throughout the season is already coming into question in other sports that have started to resume.

Major League Baseball’s plan hit a snag this week, with some teams that receiving their results fast enough forcing the league to begin looking for an additional testing facility. The speed of the NFL’s ability to receive results from player testing will play a big role in how the NFL can safely and securely begin the season.

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